$108k spent hunting for new head of crown company

By Shelley Robinson at the Christchurch Star

Kaiapoi-based Albert Brantley has been appointed chief executive of crown company Otakaro. Photo / Greg Bowker
Kaiapoi-based Albert Brantley has been appointed chief executive of crown company Otakaro. Photo / Greg Bowker

Crown-company Otakaro spent $108,000 headhunting internationally for its chief executive, before choosing Kaiapoi-based Albert Brantley.

The costs are about 50 to 60 per cent higher than money spent recruiting chief executives for Development Christchurch and Regenerate Christchurch.

Otakaro spent $348,000 in total recruiting 48 staff.

Former mayor Garry Moore said the spend was "beyond disgusting" and the Government was lining the pockets of "Flash Harry" consultants post-earthquake.

But the Minister supporting the Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Gerry Brownlee, said it is normal expenditure for new companies without HR resources.

Otakaro, which took over the anchor projects from the now defunct Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said the agency had to recruit internationally for the role because it did not expect to find a suitable person in the country.

An Otakaro spokesman said it was told by the recruiter it had received a "substantial reduction" in rates.

Canadian Albert Brantley, the former Genesis Energy boss, who lives in Kaiapoi, was appointed to the $500,000 role in April.

Otakaro initially refused to provide The Star with chief executive recruitment data.

Mr Brownlee told The Star yesterday he expected it to be "transparent around its spending".

The Star received the information soon after.

Former mayor Garry Moore said it was an insult to earthquake-weary residents.
"So they spent $108,00 to find a guy that lives in North Canterbury. . . this just stinks, disgraceful.

"There are all these consultants around Christchurch driving Maseratis. Since the earthquakes there has been more Flash Harry cars in the city than I have ever seen before," he said.

Forty-seven Otakaro staff were recruited under another contract of $240,000 bringing personnel numbers to 90.

Labour spokeswoman for Canterbury Issues Megan Woods said it would be a bitter pill for the city, yet to see major anchor projects on the ground.

"This is meant to be a locally led recovery it was never going to be a global search.

"What Cantabrians want to see is action on the ground and not big spending on a bureaucracy. . . for people that are struggling $108,000 just to find someone to do the job let alone pay them to do the job is going to seem excessive," she said.

Regenerate Chch, the joint council-Crown agency, spent $42,000 - all on recruiting the first staff member, chief executive Ivan Iafeta.

City council's regeneration arm, Development Chch, spent $116,180 on recruitment companies - $50,332 to get a chief executive, filled by Rob Hall.

Mr Brownlee said recruitment fees at Otakaro were "well below the industry average".

"The company had to be built from scratch, casting a wide net to seek the best people, and it is reasonable to expect that this comes with a cost," he said.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce president Tony Sewell said recruiters were highly specialised and doubted the costs were extreme.

- Christchurch Star

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